Saturday, December 23, 2000

The Rest of the Story

Or How Pasha Learned About Patience

Tears usually don’t come at the start of the journey. But upon my arrival in Kirov, the pastor’s wife approached me in the hotel lobby, and began to tell me a story. She pointed across the dimly lit room full of two thousands pounds of luggage and travel weary bodies to a small boy prancing playfully around this group of strangers. “His name is Pasha” she told me. “Our family adopted him this year from one of the local orphanages.”

Then she asked if I remembered the story of The Little Apple Tree. “Of course, it’s my favorite” I replied. She inquired if I remembered telling it to the children at the orphanage that houses the very young (birth to 5 yrs). I did remember. Then she told me Pasha was from that orphanage, and during the process of adoption, cutting through all the red tape, there was a time when they were not allowed to visit him. “Pasha was very, very sad,” she said. “But each week I would write letters to him, and I would remind him of The Little Apple Tree story, and how the Lord wanted him to be patient”.

The tears flowed freely. I saw in his newfound happiness a small portion of the reason I go to Russia. The things that go on after our flashy, funny, full of gifts group leaves is the greater harvest. It is not always about numbers of people exposed to the gospel. Nor should it become tainted by how many “accept Christ as Lord” at the end of our campaign. It should stay about the one lost, who the savior left heaven to claim.

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. Matt 18:12-14

The stars are hidden within each of us. I have often cried out and symbolically (as well as actually) stamped my feet at the God of heaven who sticks me in the middle of a group of missionaries, as a single parent, without a supportive and loving spouse. I look “up” at my counterparts and see their marriages and mates as “stars in their branches”. The story of how one little tree learned patience and pride in itself, remains my favorite. For it teaches and re-teaches me, the greatest of my hearts desires, the Lord is growing an answer to!

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:4-6